Man With History Of Skin Cancer Not Seen For Follow-Up Appointment For Eight Months
A widow has called for lessons to be learned after a hospital trust apologised for a delay in her husband’s cancer care before his death.
Gordon Maclean, who had a history of skin cancer, died four years after attending Gloucestershire Royal Hospital in June 2015 with a cancerous lesion on his left hand which was removed that September.
Following surgery Gordon, of Podsmead, Gloucester, complained for a number of months of reduced movement and pain in his left wrist. In July 2016 it was believed that a lump on his left elbow was likely to be benign. They recommended he attend a review in October 2016.
Patient faced five month delay in cancer care
However, the dad-of-six and granddad-of-eight was not seen until 31 March, 2017 – eight months after his last appointment and five-and-a-half months later than he should have been.
Over the next five months he underwent seven medical reviews while under the care of the Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust which runs Gloucestershire Royal Hospital. He was diagnosed as having an aggressive cancerous tumour on his upper left arm in August 2017.
Gordon, who was a builder, had his left arm amputated above the elbow. Subsequent tests found the cancer had spread. He died aged 77 in July 2019.
His cancer was found to have spread from his hand. His death certificate confirmed that the spread of the cancer resulted in his death.
Family asks lawyers for help after dad's cancer care delay
Following Gordon’s death his wife Angela, 73, instructed expert medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate her husband’s care under Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
The Trust admitted that it breached its duty of care by not offering Gordon a follow-up appointment no later than 14 October, 2016.
Hospital Trust apologises to family
Deborah Lee, the hospital trust’s chief executive apologised in a letter to Angela for “the delayed follow up appointments and for the additional distress those delays will have caused.”
The Trust has made recommendations to prevent a recurrence, she added.
Expert Opinion“Angela and the rest of Gordon’s family have been left devastated by his death.
“Given his previous medical history they believe more should have been done to ensure Gordon received the best possible care.
“Worrying issues in the care Gordon received have been identified but we welcome the Trust’s pledge to learn from this case. It’s now vital that the Trust upholds its own recommendation to improve patient care.
“Early detection and treatment are key to beating cancer.” Jenna Harris - Partner
Wife urges people to be aware of symptoms of cancer
Angela is now using World Cancer Day on 4 February to speak for the first time about her loss. She is urging people to be aware of the symptoms of cancer and seek medical advice as soon as possible if they have concerns.
She said: “Gordon was a wonderful husband and dad. He was never happier than when spending time with his family or dancing, either ballroom or rock ‘n’ roll.
“Having previously had skin cancer Gordon was aware of the possible signs and so sought advice.
“What happened over the next four years and losing him in the way we did was terrible.
“Gordon’s quality of life got worse and worse and he was a shadow of himself. Given his history of cancer we still struggle to understand why his care was allowed to drift.
“All we can hope for now is that by speaking out others don’t have to go through what our family has.”
Background - Gordon's story
Gordon, who was a builder, had been diagnosed with and successfully treated for skin cancer in 2001.
In June 2015 he was referred for a review at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital after becoming concerned about a lesion on the back of his left hand. The lesion was removed in September.
At a follow-up review in November 2015 staff said there was no evidence of cancerous cells.
In January 2016 Gordon was reviewed again and was referred to a surgeon when he raised that he was struggling to bend his wrist and was in pain.
Over the coming months Gordon, who was unable to clench his fist and had pain around his elbow, attended further appointments.
In July 2016 doctors believed a lump on his elbow was benign and decided to review the lump in three months.
However, Gordon was not seen until 31 March, 2017 when the lump had increased in size and was painful.
In May and June 2017 he attended further appointments and A&E when blood started leaking from the lump.
In July 2017 Gordon had the lump removed and a biopsy taken.
On 26 August, 2017, Gordon was admitted to Gloucestershire Royal Hospital with a large open wound following the previous month’s surgery. He was diagnosed with cancer three days later following tests.
He underwent surgery to amputate his arm the following month. A CT scan in December showed the cancer had spread.
Gordon underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy. However, his condition continued to deteriorate. He died in July 2019.
Find out more about our expertise in supporting families following delays in cancer care at our dedicated medical negligence section. Alternatively to speak to an expert contact us or call 0370 1500 100.